Someone close to me, many years ago, rejected biblical Christianity, especially Paul and his writings, because “They just try to scare people into heaven.” Shedd notes, “Some doctrinal systems fail to grasp the mercy of God with as much vigor and energy as they do the Divine justice.” Of course, others go to the opposite extreme, highlighting God’s mercy in such a way as to overlook his justice. Shedd adds, “We either fear too much or too little.” Well, we do not want to fear too much or fear too little. The sons of Korah rejected neither God’s mercy nor his justice, understanding rightly: “Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalm 85:9-10). The right fear, rather than being destructive, drives the sinner to the One who gives life.
Once again, I am reminded of the old country preacher who declared, “You can’t get a man saved ‘till you get him lost.” Wisdom is to know one’s true state of lostness and, then, to turn to the One who can save. Shedd: “This fear of God may and should end in the perfect love that casteth out fear.” Indeed, for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) and “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36).
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me! --Charles Wesley (1738)